A SNATCH team swung into action this week, whisking advertising ‘A-boards’ from the streets.
East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC) has set up a ‘hit squad’ to remove the controversial signs - which they say are dangerous and unsightly.
Traders were told they had until Monday night to get the signs off the streets - and there was anger when a council blitz brigade started doing the rounds of Milngavie Precinct on Tuesday morning.
Rona Miller, of Arts Forum in Station Road, said: “They came round and I took my sign in. I’d like to know how they are finding the people to do this. They must have a flat bed truck to go round confiscating these things. Where are they getting the money from?
“I’ve told the council I’d like to see the evidence for all the people who have injured themselves in Milngavie Precinct by falling over street signs - no-one has ever tripped over my sign. However, the planter from Milngavie in Bloom that I’m allowed to keep outside my premises - that’s been tripping people up!
“In the 20 years I’ve had a sign out there, no-one has been injured. If you don’t allow us to put A-boards up, we will find other ways to advertise which might look even worse.
“Has the council not got anything better to do? Have they not got schools to look after or roads to sort out.
“They didn’t even consult with the traders - that’s the crucial part of all this.”
EDC has said it has been urged to move on the issue after receiving numerous complaints about the signs. It has also announced a zero tolerance policy on flyposting throughout the district
The row broadened out this week as politicians and disabled groups had their say.
EDC’s SNP group slammed the A-board blitz, saying the ruling Labour/Tory administration, supported by the LibDems, acted “without any discussion.”
Councillor Ian Mackay, the Nats’ group leader, said: “So much for the council supporting local traders in these difficult financial times. We had hoped for a sensible discussion and decision on how these boards could be regulated and used to benefit the traders without spoiling the surroundings, but we were denied any chance to do this.
“No explanation has been given about how this zero tolerance approach will be enforced, or what it will cost the public purse. The council already has the power to remove any dangerously placed signs or obstructions, so what effect this new decision will have is anybody’s guess.
“It’s yet another example of an ill-thought out, knee-jerk reaction to a situation which could have been resolved through sensible discussion.”
However, East Dunbartonshire Access Panel (EDAP), who represent disabled people in the area, supported the ban.
Writing in the letters page of this week’s Herald, the group’s Tom Friel, Ian Cooper and Ron Murray say: “People who describe these measures as “Stalinist anti business policy”, obviously have little or no knowledge or understanding of the barriers that people with disabilities face in their every day lives, trying to negotiate the pavements while being unable to see what’s in front of them, or manoeuvre a wheelchair past the many hazards which exist.
“EDAP applaud the council for taking this step to make our communities accessible to all. EDAP supports local businesses and appreciates that times have been very difficult for the shop owners.
“However if A-frame boards are removed from our pavements then the many disabled people who live within the area will feel safer and will be more inclined to visit our towns and shop locally.”
David Devine, head of Roads and Neighbourhood Services, said: “Today, officers were monitoring town centres for A-boards which were on public footpaths.
“We spoke with traders reminding them of the council’s policy, gave them printed information about why we are doing this and let them know that in the future A-boards will be removed.”